It is of course much too soon to be breaking out the bubbly – and please don’t look here for any inside information, I have none. No chance of any comment from the regime and there’s been no change of wording on the Australian Football Consortium site. Suffice to say that if the Voice of the Valley scoop proves to be correct and we have new owners in the near future, no-one will be happier than me. And as for many others, there will be a pledge to fulfil as regards attendance at our beloved Valley.
I don’t want to speculate at this stage how it might feel to be back to us all focusing on the team, complaining now and then about the manager and urging a sane owner to pour every penny he or she has into providing us with what we want. Or not having to look at nonsense written about who is and who is not a true Addick (the more the merrier). Just too soon to be contemplating a return to life as normal.
It is perhaps worth reiterating that when Duchatelet bought our club he was welcomed (don’t take my word for it, check the posts at the time). There was initial cause for concern, given reports from Belgium about his character. But he kicked off by making it clear that there were no plans to move away from The Valley and that he considered Sir Chris to be a good coach (he should have said manager but let’s not split hairs). That goodwill went out of the window before too long, for good reason, not because supporters suddenly changed but because of the decisions taken by the regime. Hopefully soon we can think about this period (which if it ends soon will be roughly the same length of time that he owned Standard Liege) in purely historical terms, perhaps with a lengthy debate over whether Duchatelet is the worst owner we have ever had, whether perhaps Mark Hulyer edges him out (at least his heart was in the right place).
Also, if we are indeed bought by the Aussies there are bound to be some concerns, on issues which any sensible owner would quickly provide reassurance. First and foremost would be The Valley, just confirmation that new owners’ plans do not include any new stadium. There is after all no need for a new stadium and we do have a fine pitch (I actually hope they rename it the ‘Roland Turf’, to serve as a permanent reminder for us of the only decent thing he ever did for our club). Also, given the team’s start to the season there surely wouldn’t be anything to gain – and potentially a fair bit to lose - from a change of manager and his staff. Hopefully there won’t be any impact on the team from the uncertainty that potential change inevitably brings. But you’d have to say if a deal happens small price to pay.
Rather than the immediate uncertainty I’d focus on the very real prospect of a boost to crowds and a strengthened drive to get us promoted. And although we can have no confidence in Duchatelet wanting to sell the club to a fit and proper new owner, there has to be comfort taken from the fact that no outfit buying our club can be ignorant of the events of the past few years (and of course the Back to the Valley campaign). Buying Charlton on the basis of taking an underperforming club back up is hardly compatible with moves that would alienate the fans from the off.
I really don’t care if Duchatelet comes out of it all with a profit, or what he might say to try to justify a sale (to himself and those around him). We will know the truth, that he proved himself to be an unfit custodian of our club.